Liveblog: The 2015 Federal Election Debate
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Liveblog: The 2015 Federal Election Debate

We fact-check and analyze the federal election debate. Follow along for all your debate needs!

With Canada’s longest election campaign since 1872 underway, it’s time for the first election debate of 2015. Hosted by Maclean’s and moderated by journalist Paul Wells, the debate features Conservative leader Stephen Harper, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

We’ll be updating frequently throughout the debate, so follow here for fact-checking, analysis, and most importantly, jokes.

Refresh frequently to see the most recent comment on top.

10:08 PM: Well that was the debate. Paul Wells did a solid job in leading a policy-heavy debate. Trudeau was combative but his closing speech fell short. Mulcair stared down the camera, but it didn’t always feel so good. Harper was Harper. And Elizabeth May delivered an informed and articulate critique of her colleagues on the stage. And we still have more than 70 days left in the campaign. (David Hains)

10:01 PM: Did Trudeau just quote a Taylor Swift song in his closing statement? No, but it felt like it. (Jane Lytvynenko)

10:00 PM: All I can think about while Trudeau speaks is him doing the downward dog. (Jane Lytvynenko)

9:58 PM: Elizabeth May has had an absolutely killer showing tonight, and if she’s ending her remarks by basically begging Canadians not to write the Greens off, well, she earned it. (Christopher Bird)

9:55 PM: Mulcair started out very, very stiff tonight, but he eased into it and found his footing over the course of the debate, which is to say by the end he didn’t sound like a creepy grandpa any more. (Christopher Bird)

9:54 PM: Harper’s closing statement is basically “Everyone else will destroy Canada, probably, but Canada is great. Vote me.” (Ian MacIntyre)

9:52 PM: If Mulcair stared down Harper and Trudeau as much as he stared down the camera, he would have done much better in this debate. (David Hains)

9:51 PM: Harper says he hearts Israel, and they’re totally besties. (David Hains)

9:49 PM: Mulcair says Harper should not have signed the nomination papers of Larry Miller, a backbench MP who told Muslim women to go back to where they came from. Hard to disagree with that.

9:47 PM: Stephen Harper says Muslims are the vast majority of victims of the worldwide terrorist movement. Not quite “Muslim on Muslim crime” but… (David Hains)

9:47 PM: “Mr. Harper, are you using code words against the Muslim population?” “Absolutely not,” says the guy who earlier in this debate referred to the Middle East as the “Muslim region.” (Christopher Bird)

9:46 PM:
Mulcair: “Mr. Harper singles out mosques, he knows why he’s using that language.” (Jane Lytvynenko)

9:45 PM: Harper is asked what he thinks of Justin Trudeau’s stance on Bill C-51. He replies that Trudeau can speak for himself, but that he’s “been for and against the legislation at the same time.” Simple and devastating. That was one of the more effective lines of the entire debate. (Desmond Cole)

9:43 PM: Justin Trudeau clearly knew this Bill C51 question was coming, and even HE doesn’t seem to buy his answer. (Ian MacIntyre)

9:43 PM: “Mr. Mulcair would have us be scared for the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.” It appears that Justin Trudeau intends this statement to be, like, bad somehow. (Christopher Bird)

9:38 PM: Stephen Harper claims that spending per veteran has increased 35 per cent under the Tories. It is unclear if he has included the $1.13 billion allocated for veterans that was unspent under his tenure. (Christopher Bird)

9:36 PM: I believe the Muslim Region is north of “Niqabistan” and west of “TheThreatOfTheIslamicState-ovinia,” but I haven’t played Risk recently. (Ian MacIntyre)

9:33 PM: Stephen Harper just referred to “the Muslim Region,” when discussing the Middle East. This must be in contrast to the “Christian Region,” or the “Heathen Region,” which might be Parkdale. (David Hains)

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9:28 PM: I think during the break someone told Mulcair to stop staring down the camera. Thank you, kind citizen. (Jane Lytvynenko)

9:27 PM: FOREIGN POLICY TIME! If we do one shot every time Harper says the word “terrorist,” we can probably kill ourselves with alcohol! (Christopher Bird)

9:23 PM: We are now entering the final round of the debate. If this was American Gladiators, this would be the equivalent of The Eliminator. (David Hains)

9:22 PM: May proposes creating a council to tackle the Senate. Others ignore her and go back to talking points. Who needs new ideas anyway? (Jane Lytvynenko)

9:22 PM: Justin Trudeau claims that he has no ability to influence the former members of the Liberal caucus in the Senate. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. (Christopher Bird)

9:22 PM: Mulcair wants to abolish the Senate. He’s been strongly criticized for making such a feat seem simple when it isn’t. But his criticism that Harper has used the Senate to oppose the elected House of Commons plays strongly in debate format. (Desmond Cole)

9:19 PM: Stephen Harper says he can’t “force” Senators to do what he wants, but can only ask them politely. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. (Christopher Bird)

9:18 PM: Stephen Harper says the Fair Elections Act compels voters to have to show ID to vote. But the requirement to show ID is not new. The Fair Elections Act eliminates voter ID cards, which used to be sent to people’s homes directly from Elections Canada, and could be used in combination with other ID to vote. (Desmond Cole)

9:17 PM: On YouTube, over 28,000 people are live streaming the debate. That’s about six times the average prime time Sun TV audience, and that was on real tee vee. (David Hains)

9:15 PM: Stephen Harper claims that “90 per cent” of Canadians support the photo ID provisions of the Fair Elections Act. In 2014, Angus Reid noted that this figure was only accurate for people who admitted that they weren’t familiar with the bill, and that support dropped to less than 59 per cent with voters who were familiar with it. As an aside, the same poll showed that 65 per cent of Canadians didn’t trust the Conservative Party to ensure Canada has the best possible elections oversight. (Christopher Bird)

9:14 PM: Harper saying “we just think people should need ID to vote”, as if prior to his “common sense reform” Election Day was basically The Purge. (Ian MacIntyre)

9:12 PM: Nobody has said “Duffy” yet. (Jane Lytvynenko)

9:11 PM: Wow, it took Harper this long to mention “undemocratic” coalitions. Restraint.

9:09 PM: The Longer I’m Moderator: The Paul Wells Plan to Usurp Steve Paikin. (David Hains)

9:08 PM: Tying the NDP to Quebec separatism is fairly obviously the Stephen Harper plan for attacking them. (As an aside: while we are very much for one Canada with Quebec within it, it’s not really accurate to say that Quebec “just answered this question” when it was two decades ago. The Quebec referendum is older than “C’mon And Ride It (The Train)” by the Quad City DJs.) (Christopher Bird)

9:04 PM: Hold up—Paul Wells asks Elizabeth May if her Green Party will take votes away from other opposition parties and help re-elect Stephen Harper. The topic is supposed to be electoral reform. That isn’t an electoral reform question, it’s a question about the electability of the Green Party and shouldn’t have been asked under the guise of electoral reform. (Desmond Cole)

9:00 PM: This debate has been heavily policy focused. Meanwhile, in America, the leading Republican candidates for President are having a debate where the first event is, or so we are told, shitting into their own hands and flinging it at Brit Hume. (Christopher Bird)


8:58 PM: Stephen Harper says his government has eliminated oil and gas subsidies. The Pembina Institute agrees in a report from last year: “The federal government has made some progress in phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. For example, prior to 2009, Canada announced plans to phase out four major subsidies with a combined value of $879 million.” Pembina goes on to say there’s more room to improve. (Desmond Cole)

8:56 PM: The Jays lead the Twins 9-2 in the top of the seventh, so you really have no excuse not to keep following this debate. Unless the clown car of a Republican Party debate is more your thing. (David Hains)

8:54 PM: Mulcair: And YOU get a position, and YOU get a position, all oppositions get positions! Maybe let debaters speak for themselves? (Jane Lytvynenko)

8:52 PM: We are debating the intricacies of environmental assessment procedure. The hearts of nerds, and us, flutter across the country. (David Hains)

8:52 PM: Harper claims that carbon taxes “don’t reduce emissions.” British Columbia’s carbon tax has dropped emissions by sixteen percent. Stephen Harper is fuller of crap than most landfills. (Christopher Bird)

8:45 PM: When Stephen Harper gets defensive, he gives a half chuckle, like, “can you believe these guys?” Although he is often praised as a great debater, this is a potential flaw in his style. (Desmond Cole)

8:42 PM: Justin Trudeau has frequently said two phrases about Stephen Harper.

  1. “Mr. Harper, no one believes you.”
  2. “That’s not true, Mr. Harper.”

(David Hains)

8:42 PM: Having just been confronted with Elizabeth May pointing out that emissions are up, Harper claims that CO2 emissions are down. They are not. They have steadily risen since 2009. Environment Canada itself confirms this. Stephen Harper is plainly lying. (Christopher Bird)

8:37 PM: This debate actually has a lot of policy discussion, which is great to see. (David Hains)

8:34 PM: Harper claims that “large majorities” of both Americans and Canadians support the Keystone XL pipeline. According to the Wall Street Journal, 41 per cent of Americans support the pipeline (versus 20 per cent opposed and 37 per cent unsure), and according to Nanos Research 48 per cent of Canadians support the pipeline and 46 percent oppose. These are neither large nor majorities. Discuss. (Christopher Bird)

8:30 PM: A very scientific online poll shows that Thomas Mulcair has the most people clicking online on the social medias and the Facebooks and so forth. It’s online! It’s the future! (Christopher Bird)


8:27 PM: Paul Wells led off this debate by asking Justin Trudeau if tax cuts alone are enough to stimulate the economy. Trudeau hasn’t offered more substantive plans, except to say government needs to help create jobs. He seems to be hoping his sharp attacks on Harper’s record will be enough to carry the debate. (Desmond Cole)

8:26 PM: “It’s clear you’re gonna do everything you can to hang onto your job, Mr. Harper. I’m going to create jobs for Canadians.” Mulcair with a pretty sharp and no doubt focus-tested burn. (Ian MacIntyre)

8:27 PM: A large portion of the country just took a shot after that World War II economy comment. (Jane Lytvynenko)

8:24 PM: Harper claims that Canada has the lowest deficits in the G7. Again – Germany’s budgets have been tighter. (And if you went to the G8 instead, so are Russia’s.) (Christopher Bird)